DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

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What’s The Difference Between A CRB & DBS Check?

DBS checks and CRB checks are both terms commonly mentioned when discussing criminal record checks. However, they are in fact two different things. What does each one mean? What are their differences between the two? Care Check look at DBS and CRB checks to keep you in the know.

What is a CRB Check?

A CRB check was a criminal history check using the Police National Computer (PNC). It was carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau from 2002 until the introduction of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in 2012.
You may find a ‘CRB Check’ around today because there are many people who will have a CRB certificate to their name. However, a CRB Check can no longer be obtained in the old format and old CRB Checks are not valid as a form of a background check.

What is a DBS Check?

A DBS check is conducted by the Disclosure and Barring Service, a Home Office sponsored non-departmental public group. The DBS was created in 2012 when the Criminal Records Bureau was merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). The aim of the merger was to streamline the process. The DBS can issue a criminal record check and a check against the children or vulnerable adults barred list, if required. Previously, this process was split between the CRB and ISA.

What is the difference between a CRB and DBS Check?

There really is no difference between the CRB and DBS. The only difference is the ISA and CRB merged to create the DBS, Disclosure and Barring Service.

Looking to apply for a DBS Check? Individuals can easily apply for a Basic DBS Check here. Organisations can get registered here

A DBS Check includes three levels of check:

  • Basic DBS Check
    A basic disclosure available to all UK residents employers and individuals can apply for. This checks criminal history for ‘unspent’ convictions.
  • Standard Check
    A check that only employers can get for employees or prospective employees. The check looks at an applicant’s criminal history for details of cautions, warnings, reprimands, and convictions (both spent and unspent).
  • Enhanced Check
    This is the same as the standard check except it also searches
    barred lists to ensure the applicant isn’t barred from working with vulnerable adults.

In basic terms, DBS checks are similar to CRB checks. . However, the new format means criminal record information and barred list checks are included in the same certificate.

DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

How Does the Split Affect Checks?

The major change is that you cannot apply for a CRB check anymore, however, you will still get the same information in a DBS check. Another change is the legislation regarding those who are eligible for higher-level checks which is updated regularly by the DBS. It’s up to employers to use the DBS eligibility tool to see if their employee is eligible for that check.

If you still have a CRB certificate, they are still technically valid as they have no expiry date. However, in different sectors it’s up to the employers how regularly they check their staff. The regularity of checks will probably be down to industry guidelines.

There’s also the possibility that the original CRB certificate cannot be accessed by employers due to a change of legislation, especially if the individual is now eligible for a higher level check. Employers should seek expert advice on any possible legislative issues.

Changes for Barred List Checks 

The introduction of DBS in 2012 meant it took control of all barred lists from the ISA. This allowed for barred list checks to take place as part of the enhanced DBS check, if the applicant is eligible. If the person is engaging in regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults, then they can be checked against the children and/or vulnerable adults barred list. The check cross-references the applicant’s information against the list of people barred from working with vulnerable people. As mentioned earlier, the merger of DBS and ISA meant this check could be streamlined, allowing all bases to be covered.

DBS Adult First Check 

The Adult First check was introduced to enable employers to make a quick check on a potential employee’s information against the adults’ barred list, if they will be working with vulnerable adults. This is a check that can only be requested whilst an enhanced DBS check is being processed. It’s designed to provide a quick result so that an individual can start work (under supervision) until the full DBS check has been returned.

CRB or DBS? 

While both were created to conduct criminal record checks, only DBS is currently in force. If CRB and DBS are both mentioned, these are the points to remember:

  • CRB checks are no longer completed. However, there are some people who still refer to a DBS check as a CRB check.
  • If you’re eligible for a criminal record check, you’ll need to request a basic level DBS check. Only employers can request a higher level check.
  • Legislation differs since the change from CRB to DBS – always check with DBS to make sure you know which check is suitable for your role.

Care Check can help with an Individual DBS check application and bulk applications for employers. Register with us today to get your DBS check. If you need more information in regards to ID requirements, eligibility or the different levels of DBS check available, visit our dedicated support section or blog for the latest updates.


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